Doctor, Doctor – Ask the Doctor series

Doctor, Doctor – Ask the Doctor series

Do you ever have questions that you want to ask your doctor but you never do because you are embarrassed?  Toenail fungus got you down?  Rashes in your nether regions have you singing the blues?  Pee a little every time you laugh?  Can’t remember the last time you had a normal bowel movement?  In this first installment of an ongoing series, I am going to tackle some of these issues so that you can find the answers to some of your “embarrassing” questions and hopefully feel more comfortable asking your own doctor!  Whatever question or concern you have, I can guarantee you that I’ve heard worse!

“Every time I sneeze, laugh, cough, or jump I pee a little!  What can I do?”   

This is such a common problem in women.  For any of us who have gone through pregnancy and childbirth, (either a normal vaginal delivery or c-section) the changes that occur in the pelvic muscles and vaginal area can frequently lead to leakage of urine.  Interestingly, pregnancy and childbirth are not the only factors, as women who have never been pregnant can be just as likely to develop problems, particularly after menopause.  This is a type of urinary incontinence called Stress Urinary Incontinence, or SUI.  Normally, there is a muscle at our urethra (remember your anatomy?) that controls the flow of urine coming out.  We should be able to control this voluntarily.  However, due to a variety of factors including hormone changes, stretch of muscles, etc., sometimes this muscle or “valve,” if you will, just doesn’t work that great.  So, when we have a sudden increase in bladder pressure as occurs with a cough, sneeze, or even jumping around, some urine can leak out.  I often tell my patients that this is not a dangerous problem; no one has ever died or had significant health issues related to SUI.  However, it’s important to talk about because it’s a quality of life issue.  If it becomes more severe, it can cause women to constantly be wearing pads or undergarments, and can limit activities due to fear of embarrassment in social situations.  So, what to do?  There are a variety of different solutions.  Going to the bathroom every couple of hours to be sure your bladder stays relatively empty helps.  Avoiding drinks and foods that may irritate the bladder (i.e. artificial sweeteners) may help.  There are some injections that are now being done which help, and there are also surgical corrections for this.  Medications typically don’t help much in this particular type of incontinence.  If you have this problem, talk with your doctor, who will refer you to a specialist.  They will typically talk with you about your symptoms, do some bladder and urine testing, and talk with you about your options.  You’ll be glad you did!

“Every time I have a bowel movement, it’s diarrhea!  Sometimes a few times per day!”

This is also a very common problem, for both women and men.  And it’s not something to be ignored!  Any change in your bowel habits is something your doctor wants to know about.  So don’t be shy!  I have literally had patients bring me stool samples and pictures of their stool to look at, so talking about this is something I am happy to do!  Diarrhea develops for many reasons.  Sometimes it’s acute, like a stomach bug or food poisoning.  These illnesses are generally short lived, associated with cramping, sometimes fever, and will resolve within a few days.  Sometimes however, diarrhea can develop more insidiously over time.  There are many different things that can cause this from food intolerance (dairy in particular), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and various types of Colitis.  In severe cases, you can lose weight and develop electrolyte imbalance.  So, if you are in the bathroom several times per day, it’s time to talk to your doctor.  More tests will be needed to find out what the problem is, including possibly the dreaded colonoscopy.  However, it’s important to get to the bottom (see what I did there?!) of it, as treatment can vary depending on the cause.

What other embarrassing questions do you have?  Please feel free to reply in our comments, even if you are asking on behalf of a friend!  🙂

–Cara

This blog is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, we provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Pretty Gritty Girls is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.

 

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